And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 18, Number
In this issue:
The Origin and Spread of Islam
One of the oft-repeated traits of false religions is the elevation of men to unwarranted and undeserved positions of renown. Skeptics say that is what Christians have done with Jesus of Nazareth. Yet, the dramatic and unalterable distinction between those who exalt themselves as God's great men and Jesus the Christ is the evidence that supports His claim of deity (His miracles, His resurrection, fulfilled prophecies, eyewitness testimony and even the testimony of His enemies). Jesus did not receive honor from men (Jno. 5:41). He received honor from the Father who sent Him (Jno. 8:54). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is to be honored just as the Father is honored (Jno. 5:23). Islam does not honor Jesus as the Son of God. Therefore, it does not honor the Father, either. It is a false religion.
Islam honors the man Muhammad above Jesus Christ. Although Muslims deny deifying Muhammad, they hold him in the highest esteem, believing him to be God's last prophet and final messenger.
“Muhammad is the very last Prophet of God to mankind. He is the final Messenger of God. His message was and is still to all of mankind, including the Christians and Jews. He was sent to those religious people to inform them about the true mission of Jesus, Moses, David, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham.
“Muhammad is considered to be the summation and culmination of all the prophets and messengers that came before him. He purified the previous messages from adulteration and completed the Message of God for all humanity. He was entrusted with the power of explaining, interpreting and living the teachings of the Qur’an (Introducing Islam, Dr. Sakr).
"The Prophet Muhammad is also reported to have said in a number of authentic hadiths, 'I am the leader of all the children of Adam, but I do not boast about it.' Allah gave Prophet Muhammad this honor. All prophets were sent to their own people for their own time (Ibrahim 14:4), but Prophet Muhammad was sent to all people for all time to come (Saba' 34:28). Allah sent Prophet Muhammad as a mercy to all the worlds (Al-Anbiyaa' 21:107); no other prophet or messenger of Allah was given this honor" (Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, Superiority of Prophet Muhammad, IslamOnline.net).
In sharp contrast to the gospel of Jesus, Islam holds Muhammad to be the last, best spokesman of God. The divine voice that spoke from the cloud when Jesus was transfigured said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him", should have said, "Hear Muhammad" (Matt. 17:5)! The inspired author of Hebrews said, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1-2). Jesus the Son of God, not Muhammad, is God's spokesman in this last age.
Muslims also believe Muhammad "is the supreme model of human behavior" for mankind (Islam Unveiled, Robert Spencer, p. 39).
"It may be said that the Prophet is the perfection of both the norm of the human collectivity and the human individual, the norm for the perfect social life and the prototype and guide for the individual's spiritual life....He is both the Universal Man and the Primordial Man (al-insan al-qadim). As the Universal Man he is the totality of which we are a part and in which we participate; as the Primordial Man he is that original perfection with respect to which we are a decadence and a falling away" (Ideals and Realities of Islam, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 82; cited by Spencer, p. 39).
Spencer continues, "The great Persian poet and revered Muslim saint Sheikh Moslehedin Saadi Shirazi summed it up succinctly, addressing Muhammad: 'In short, after God you are the greatest'" (Quoted in And Muhammad Is His Messenger" The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety, Annemarie Schimmel, p. 5; cited by Spencer, 39-40). "The Prophet himself had said in his last sermon: 'I leave behind me two things, the Quran and my example the sunnah [traditions about the words and deeds of the Prophet], and if you follow these you will never go astray" (Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World, Akbar S. Ahmed, p. 28; cited by Spencer, 40).
The Bible certainly does not teach that after God, Muhammad is "the greatest". He is a sinner in need of the salvation only Christ can give, just like everyone else (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). It is Jesus who lived without sin, not Muhammad (Heb. 4:15). Jesus Christ is the example we follow in all things (Lk. 6:40; 1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 2:5; 1 Pet. 2:21). Jesus is the "author (cause, source) of eternal salvation" (Heb. 5:9). Jesus is the "captain" (leader, trailblazer, prince) of our salvation (Heb. 2:10). It is Jesus Christ in whom "dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" and in whom we are "complete" (Col. 2:9-10). Those who declare completeness in Muhammad and the religion of Islam remain incomplete, needing salvation.
At the age of 42 (AD 612), while on a personal mission to find truth, Muhammad claimed the angel Gabriel visited him in a cave on Mt. Nur and recited what is now found in Quran 96:1-5: “Proclaim thou in the name of thy Lord Who created, Created man from a clot of blood. Proclaim! and thy Lord is the Most Bounteous; Who taught by the pen, Taught man what he knew not.” He would change his name to Muhammad ("highly praised") due to his alleged visions, and develop his message of one God (Allah) in opposition to the paganism and idolatry of his day.
Initially he only shared his new revelations with family and close friends, and for the next three years his message began to spread in Mekkah (Mecca), especially among young people. Upon Allah's instruction, Muhammad went public and openly condemned the paganism and idolatry that filled Mekkah. His message was seen as an economic threat, leading to organized opposition to Muhammad and his teaching. Followers were persecuted to the death. In AD 622, 70 followers left Mekkah and went to Madinah (Medina), pledging to protect Muhammad. This was a turning point. For the next eight years Muhammad expanded his power base and became a religious, political and military leader.
And so, Muhammad began to spread his message by intimidation and force. Threats of war converted whole tribes to his new faith. In AD 630 he returned to Mekkah with 10,000 troops and imposed Islam upon the citizenry without resistance. Islam began and spread with the brandishing of the sword and a plain proposal: Submit (remember, Islam means "submission") by conversion or by surrender and paying a tax, or die. By AD 732 Islam had spread throughout the Middle East, Africa and Europe until the Battle of Tours in France, and in time, Asia and the southwest Pacific islands.
How very different from the Prince of Peace, whose kingdom is not of this world (Isa. 9:6-7; Jno. 18:36). Jesus refused to advance His kingdom with the sword, saying "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matt. 26:52). His message of truth is offered, not under the glint of a war blade, but with the sword of the Spirit (the word of God) pricking the heart in conviction of sin and conversion to Christ (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-41).
Muhammad is a false prophet of a false religion. He is not God's messenger and he is not our example of righteous living.
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Scripture Reading: Galatians 6:11-15
1. Pride may display itself in boastful words and actions;
in self-righteous assurance of self and condemnation of others, Lk. 18:9-12.
I. WHAT IS BOASTING?
A. To Take Pride in Something; to Boast of that which Constitutes a Source of Pride, 2 Cor. 7:4; 8:24; 2 Thess. 1:4; Jas. 4:16.
II. BOASTING IN OURSELVES OR BOASTING IN GOD?
A. Justification by Works would Allow for Boasting, Rom. 4:1-4; Rom. 3:20, 23, 27; Eph. 2:9; Titus 3:4-5; Gal. 6:14.
III. PRINCIPLE: NECESSITY EXCLUDES BOASTING.
"Necessity is Laid on Me", 1 Cor. 9:16.
What Did Jesus Look Like?
People have been curious about what Jesus looked like for centuries. The earliest known artistic depiction of Jesus dates to AD 235. A fresco discovered in a Syrian synagogue named the "Healing of the Paralytic" shows Jesus with short, curly hair wearing a tunic and sandals ("What did Jesus look like? Science is still trying to solve the mystery", Lisa Gutierrez, Skagit Valley Herald, December 19, 2015, A7).
Divine wisdom has seen to it that we were given no descriptions of his physical features. Even without this information men have drawn icons and sculpted images used to arouse emotion and direct veneration. Just as Israel saw no form of Jehovah when He spoke at Sinai, lest they make carved images to worship, so it is with the physical features of Jesus (Deut. 4:15-18). We can say with certainty Jesus did not have stunningly handsome features: "He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isa. 53:2). One thing is sure: since Jesus was a Jew from the region of Galilee he did not have European features.
The much more important question to ask is what did the character and spirit of Jesus look like? Jesus said, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (Jno. 14:9) We see God by looking at the words and deeds of Jesus! When we look at Jesus we see the heart, the mind, the love, the mercy, the disappointments, the judgments and the will of God. To truly look at Jesus this way brings the good and honest heart to belief, obedience and the salvation of God.
Many people would rather have an image to fix their eyes on when thinking about Jesus. But, Jesus engages our mind by His life and His teachings. When people say, "we wish to see Jesus", let us take them to the Scriptures so they can see the real Jesus (Jno. 12:21).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 12/27/2015
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA